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Week of Prayer Declared in Nigeria’s Enugu Diocese after Desecration by Priest’s Followers

Holy Ghost Cathedral in Nigeria's Enugu Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu in Nigeria has announced a week of prayer of atonement and reparation following a desecration incident by people reportedly linked to a member of the Clergy of the Nigerian Diocese.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa on Thursday, May 6, Bishop Callistus Onaga makes reference to the May 5 incident in which followers of Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbaka of the Adoration Ministry stormed the Diocesan premises and vandalized various facilities.

“On 5th May, the followers of Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbaka of the Adoration Ministry Enugu, Nigeria violently broke into the Diocesan Cathedral Church and desecrated the Holy Altar of sacrifice,” Bishop Onaga says in the May 6 statement.

The Nigerian Bishop adds in reference to the followers of Fr. Mbaka, “Over and above this, they brutally vandalized the Diocesan Bishop’s residence, the Cathedral parish house and the secretariat building complex.”

In the communique addressed to the leadership of Parishes, Chaplains and Religious houses in Catholic Diocese, the Bishop describes the May 5 incident as a “heinous act” against the sanctity of the Church and calls on the people of God in the Diocese to repent.

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“I hereby declare and call for a one-week union of prayer in reparation and atonement for this heinous act against our central place of worship and the sanctity of the Church,” says Bishop Onaga.

He adds, “The prayer begins from Friday, May 7 to Friday, May 14. Every Parish, chaplaincy and Religious community in the Diocese is obliged to participate in this Holy activity.”

The Local ordinary of Enugu says that in addition to the traditional May devotion prayers, (like daily benediction), the people will be required to recite five decades of the Holy Rosary, perform the Act of Reparation to the Most Blessed Sacrament, and read and reflect upon Biblical passages from Psalm 51 and Psalm 23.

Members of the Adoration Ministry are said to have taken to the streets of Enugu, some of them storming the Bishop’s residence as they demanded to know the whereabouts of their founder who they thought to be missing. 

The protesters claimed that Bishop Onaga had invited Fr. Mbaka for a meeting on Sunday, May 2 and that since then, he (Mbaka) had not been seen. 

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Moments later, the Communications Director of the Diocese of Enugu, Fr. Benjamin Achi, told ACI Africa that the Priest had resurfaced and described the allegations that he had been missing as “misinformation.”

“He has resurfaced at 2.40 p.m. after a mob attacked the Bishop's house this morning destroying lots and lots of things,” Fr. Achi told ACI Africa in an interview on Wednesday, May 5.

Fr. Mbaka has emerged as a controversial Priest for indulging in politics of the West African country.

Last year, the Catholic Priest was faulted for engaging in partisan politics after he was captured, in a video recording, expressing explicit support for one candidate in the gubernatorial elections of Nigeria’s Imo State.

Reacting to the video, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Nigeria’s Lagos Archdiocese said, “It’s utterly surprising that Fr. Mbaka would go so far as to name one person as governor against another.” 

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“It is embarrassing when you hear of Priests, people in position authority, making statements that are clearly partisan as far as politics is concerned,” Archbishop Adewale further said, adding that Fr. Mbaka’s actions at the time must have been giving his Local Ordinary “a bit of a headache.”

“I can imagine that this must be giving the Bishop some challenges,” Archbishop Adewale said, and added, “I hope that he (Bishop) finds some way of dealing with this matter that has been recurring from time to time.”

In his May 6 message to the people of God in the Diocese of Enugu, Bishop Onaga has called for prayers for the Diocese and urged the people to remain calm during what he has described as a challenging moment.

“I enjoin you to remain sober and to keep the Diocese in payer. With Divine assistance and grace, we shall overcome this challenging moment,” the Bishop says, and adds, “May Our Lady, the Queen of May intercede for us. Amen.”